A Schedule for the Century

Raidon Bingham, Reporter

With the school year coming to an end, the Briar Woods student body prepares for the long and relaxing summer it has earned through a half-year of toil. Like many others of its kind, Briar Woods High School follows the traditional school year schedule of one-hundred and eighty days — interrupted, of course, by a sprinkling of holidays and breaks. The “Traditional Model” has been the bastion of public teaching since the early beginnings of mandated education, but its agricultural roots bring into question the usefulness of a schedule created in the 17th century. Many educators and school administrators instead push for a newer system, the “Year-Round” schedule. 

Despite the illusion of novelty, the Year-Round Schedule has been in use in American schools since post-colonial times. At its advent, the system was used to ward a larger student body and to ensure a stronger and more permanent education for its attendants — usually wealthier children. According to the California Department of Education, the Year-Round schedule follows either the 90/30 or 60/20 principle. As the names suggest, the 90/30 and 60/20 principles reflect a system of on and off days in which students have thirty days of break for every ninety school days or twenty days break for every every sixty days of instruction respectively. The schedule draws from a greatly reduced summer vacation and compensates with a distribution of off-days throughout the seasons of the school year. 

The Traditional School year emphasizes the out-of-school experience for students with its lengthy summer. Under this system, students have the ability to participate more freely in extracurricular activities without the burden of school at the cost of a less-ingrained curriculum. Whereas the Traditional school year suffers from poor lesson retention over the summer, the Year-Round Schedule tackles the issue through a shorter summer break in tandem with remediation classes. Remediation in the school setting involves extra lessons offered during breaks that “refresh” students on topics they may have forgotten. Furthermore, the Traditional Model pressures parents on the long-term childcare necessary in the “off-season” of school. The Year-Round schedule’s shortening of summer alleviates the costs of childcare for parents. 

One of the prides of the Year-Round model is its suitability for higher concentrations of students. The original setting of the first year-round schools in the densely populated cities of the East coast resulted in the creation of the multi-track system. The invention allows for schools to enroll a greater number of children; with correct implementation, many of these schools are able to accommodate 33% percent more students than the traditional system! With the Year-Round and multi-track frameworks, schools are able to enroll a greater body of students while simultaneously maximizing space efficiency. Combined with the previously mentioned process of remediation, the Year-Round system would, in theory, replace the outdated traditional system and implement a schedule that would ensure students enjoyed regular breaks while simultaneously fortifying skill-retention.

As have many of America’s Western colleagues, perhaps it is time for the United States to make the switch to a twenty-first century system made for twenty-first century people.